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How Much to Tip an African Safari Guide?

Travelers often ask us for advice regarding how, who, and when to tip safari guides in Africa. Others worry about etiquette or local traditions. So I'm going to explain how much to tip an African safari guide to avoid overspending while ensuring you get to give gratuities with respect.


How Much to Tip an African Safari Guide?

When embarking on an African safari adventure, we recommend giving around $10-$20 (approximately 200-400 South African Rand) daily for the guide or tracker. The tip should reflect the guide's level of knowledge and involvement. The method of giving the tip and the currency may depend on the local tour operator.


Safari journeys become successful with the help of different people, especially guides. Find Your Africa can arrange gratuities in advance, so you won't have to worry about tipping throughout the trip. However, it helps to understand why you're tipping the staff.


Person feeding a giraffe on an African safari trip

What Are the General Tipping Guidelines for an African Safari?

To ensure a smooth safari experience, staying informed about tipping protocols is crucial. Your travel advisor is your go-to source for expert advice and guidance on proper tipping etiquette. Trust us to give you the valuable insights you need for a worry-free adventure.


A good rule of thumb is to prepare $10-$20 per day for guides or trackers and around $5-$10 each day for the support staff. Before we dive deeper into tipping safari guides, here's a rundown of the tipping guidelines for various situations.

  • Airport attendants: Get assistance from baggage assistants in uniform, usually orange overalls. Their carts have a sign indicating a fixed rate of R10 per bag.

  • Porters: When staying at a city or town hotel, tip porters R20 per bag.

  • Restaurant staff: In restaurants, 10% is an acceptable tip for good service. Feel free to give more for exceptional service.

  • Bar staff: Tipping is not expected in bars, although any loose change from your drink is generally appreciated.

  • Filling station attendants: At filling stations, attendants who fill your tank and wash your windscreen will appreciate a tip of about R10.

  • Car guards: In urban centers, car guards will help you park and watch over your vehicle while away. A 'donation' of R5 is usually enough.

  • General camp staff: In safari camps and lodges, you put R10 per day in the gratuity box. This would normally be distributed to the general camp staff, including laundry attendants and kitchen staff.

While these are suggested amounts, it helps to practice thoughtful tipping.


What Is the General Tipping Etiquette Across the World?

Tipping culture across the world varies. However, for tourism-driven economies, tips can make a big difference in the earnings of local workers. Some cultures consider tipping workers as the norm, while it can be a completely foreign concept to some people.


In some places, it's even considered rude to tip because they believe employees are already paid, so customers don't need to pay extra. For instance, North America has a higher tipping custom than South America. Meanwhile, those in Europe may depend on the service charge.


In comparison, tips matter in Africa, particularly for those in the hospitality industry. Gratuities comprise a portion of what your safari guides will take home, so it's best to give them proper tips.


How to Tip Safari Tour Guides

While you can give the $10-$20 tip to safari guides directly, each establishment has a tipping policy or etiquette. For this reason, it's best to check with the manager or tour operator before handing out gratuities.


Some accommodations have tip boxes where you can put the cash. If you have a particular staff you want to give some extra cash, consider bringing small envelopes where you can put the money.


Guides and trackers may receive direct tips, whereas accommodation staff members may get a share from the general staff tip box. If unsure, a 10% gratuity is a good starting point for tipping guides and other safari staff.


Person handing out a 10 dollar bill to a customer

What Currency Should I Use for Tipping Safari Guides in Africa?

It's customary to use South African Rand for tipping safari guides in Africa, although you can also use US dollars. When planning an African safari trip, it's essential that you are aware of how much an African safari can cost and also plan for the expenses.

  • Southern Africa: Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa accept South African Rands for tipping. Keep in mind that you will be charged in the local currency when you use a credit card in Namibia. However, you'll need to prepare Zimbabwe dollars for trips to Zimbabwe.

  • East Africa: You can use US dollars most of the time. However, the local currency is preferred in smaller amounts because exchanging foreign currency can be challenging for some people.

Should I Use Cash or a Credit Card When Tipping?

In most cases, it's best to tip in cash, mainly for drivers and trekking teams. However, when staying in luxury African safari lodges, you can use a credit card to tip. In addition, you may need to check with your tour operator first if they can process credit cards.


Meanwhile, some tour groups may accept tips digitally through apps like Venmo, Zelle, or Apple Cash.


When to Tip African Safari Guides?

When tipping safari guides, you can do so after every activity, at the end of the day, or end of your vacation. However, it's best to tip just once, ideally at the end of your stay in the lodge.


Guides won't expect tips after each activity or by the end of the day. Some locals may view this as pressure to do more work. In some cases, your fellow guests may also feel pressured to tip more frequently than necessary.


What if There's More Than One Guide?

There may be instances where there's more than one guide, or the main guide is training another. There's no need to tip both of them.


Tipping the lead guide is more than enough. It's up to the tour operator or lead guide to split the tips evenly.


What Should You Consider When Tipping Safari Guides?

Although we recommend tipping guides around $10-$20, the amount may still depend on your discretion. Knowing how much to tip comes down to the level of service, your budget, and your personal understanding of gratuity.


Tipping is deemed a courtesy nowadays, particularly since some workers rely on tips to bring home more money for their families. By entrusting Find Your Africa with the most up-to-date tipping requirements, you can have peace of mind that you won't unintentionally offend any of your guides or fellow travelers.


Level of Service

Our guides host a small group of 10 travelers every trip to ensure the highest level of service for each guest. We only work with the most skilled guides and trackers with several years of experience providing superb safari tour experiences for people.


You may increase or decrease tips depending on the level of service you experience. For example, you can give a high tip for exceptional service. Meanwhile, a lower gratuity is understandable for a mediocre or bare minimum job.


We believe that the tip should reflect how happy and contented you were with the safari experience. For our luxury tours, your guide will spend 10 days away from their family to give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Two giraffes walking on a safari in Africa


Expertise and Responsibilities

Safari guides play crucial roles in the success of a trip. Guides must be highly knowledgeable about tracking animals, navigating through vast lands, and protecting travelers in a completely new environment for them.


Guides guarantee an unparalleled game drive experience, especially if you want to see the Big 5. Moreover, our guides and trackers are English speakers.


Accumulating this expertise over the years warrants a higher tip. In contrast, those carrying your bags will require a different level of education, skills, or responsibility.


Recognition of Work

Safari guides are responsible for your safety and comfort, making the whole experience memorable. The hospitality industry takes long hours and involves a lot of extensive physical work. Your tips serve as a recognition of the extra work guides put in to make your stay perfect.


For some workers, tips are highly welcomed because they become a source of pride and motivation to work better. On your part, it's a way to show gratitude for the care you experienced.


A luxurious African safari experience is unlike anywhere else on Earth. Our guides at Find Your Africa provide top-notch service to give you one once-in-a-lifetime experience. Guides take pride in doing their work and responsibilities well; your kindness through tipping can go a long way.


How to Manage Tipping in African Safaris

Giving large tips may look generous at first. However, this may eventually be counter-productive or even insulting in some situations.


Some people feel like tipping is a burden. This is why it's understandable why some travelers get confused about tipping, mainly due to the exchange rate and local customs. In effect, some give 10 to 100 times more than the necessary amount.


Anna Post from the Emily Post Institute, an institute that provides etiquette advice and training, says that Americans tend to over-tip. For some, over-tipping can feel as if you're bribing them. Here are some tips to avoid over-tipping and simplify how you can prepare gratuities.

  • Bring cash with you: While there are ATMs in African cities, you may not find some in the African bushes. It's also not ideal to ask for change when tipping. Thus, prepare small bills before you travel to your lodge.

  • Know the designated uniforms: Be sure you know who you're tipping. Check if the staff are wearing their designated uniforms.

  • Sort tips beforehand: To avoid tipping anxiety, it helps to consider your itinerary to decide how much you're willing or capable of giving. Put your tips in an envelope marked for different days and locations. You can also put an optional thank you card.

Related Questions


How Much Do Safari Guides Get Paid?

On average, safari guides have a monthly salary of $200-$500. This is why it's essential to tip guides because it's the only way for them to get an extra substantial amount of cash.


Is Tipping Necessary When Traveling?

Most of the time, tipping is necessary when traveling, especially when it's the local custom. While some services or professions don't expect tips, they will appreciate the extra cash. Your tips serve as a bonus, primarily for those earning minimum wages.


Is It Okay Not to Give Tips?

In a sense, it's not okay not to give tips, especially for those in the hospitality field. While you're not legally required to provide tips, it's better to tip to show gratitude. Most guides understand only some people want to tip, although they may wonder what they did wrong for them not to receive gratuity.


Conclusion

Tipping African safari guides for around $10-$20 is ideal. At Find Your Africa, we have the latest information on tipping requirements and other essential tips. With our expert guidance, you can have stress-free safari planning.

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